Leading article Australia

Mean boys

26 March 2022

9:00 AM

26 March 2022

9:00 AM

‘True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.’ So wrote the eloquent Robert McKee in his mesmerising book Story, a brilliant analysis of the skills and ploys of Hollywood’s most gifted screenwriters.

McKee explains how key scenes early on in a movie reveal the choices an individual will make in the dramatic climax. Under a skilful scriptwriter, these scenes subtly define the character of that individual without overtly spelling it out. Character, McKee then asserts, is fixed and is something that cannot be changed like a cheap suit. When a genuine drama or disaster occurs later in the script, that individual must and will behave according to his or her innate character, no matter how much he or she may protest or pretend otherwise. Therein lies human nature.

This week Australians, and in particular Australian women, were given a unique insight into the true character of the man who wishes to lead this nation – and indeed, come the end of May, may be our next prime minister. And it is not a pretty sight.


The saga and sad death of Senator Kimberley Kitching is a defining moment. After years of modern Labor lecturing and haranguing not only their political opponents in the Liberal party but every Australian male in and out of the workplace about their ‘toxic masculinity’ and their unacceptable bullying and poor treatment of women in the workplace, it turns out that one of the most dangerous workplaces of all is in fact within the Labor party. How else to explain the words of Kimberley’s best friend, secretary of the Health Workers Union, Diana Asmar, who wrote in the Herald-Sun that, ‘Having spent much of the last 48 hours of her life with her and holding her hand in the middle of a suburban Strathmore street as her soul left her, I have no doubt that the workplace bullying Kimberley endured by her Labor colleagues, inflicted on her over many years, significantly worsened her health. Specifically, she was under severe stress caused by workplace bullying at the hands of Labor’s senior leadership group.’

Faced with this appalling allegation, Anthony Albanese has shown his true character. He chose to duck and to hide. To obfuscate and to evade. To dissemble and to distract. There will be no inquiry into the alleged shocking behaviour of Labor’s most senior women, we are told, because apparently Kimberley didn’t ‘formally’ complain, or some such officious twaddle.

Let every woman in the Australian workforce now know that as far as Labor’s leadership team is concerned, your safety from bullying and mental anguish at work counts for nothing if you happen to challenge the groupthink of the favoured, pampered, self-important, female Labor elite.

The man who may soon be the prime minister of this nation has defined himself, under pressure, as a weakling, a coward and a hypocrite. A man who chooses protecting the Labor brand over investigating the most egregious allegations against his own senators. Who chooses to dismiss the suffering of a dead colleague because she didn’t fill in the right forms.

Which begs the question, how would a Prime Minister Anthony Albanese behave under genuine sustained and intense pressure? The world is a far more dangerous place than even just a few years ago when ‘Albo’ became leader of the opposition. In the next parliamentary term we are likely to see some truly terrifying world events unfold. A nuclear Iran. Russia continuing to flex its muscles. China on the march. A flailing American president. Roaring inflation. Who knows what nightmares lie ahead? If ‘Albo’ can’t even stand up to three ‘mean girls’, how on earth will he deal with the mean boys?

Again, to quote Robert McKee: ‘As he chooses, he is.’

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